Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Got an Inspection? Don’t Panic – Here’s What to Expect
Posted by David Cant on April 6, 2015

Got an Inspection? Don’t Panic – Here’s What to Expect

Written Safety BoardThere’s just something about the thought of a shrewd man or woman wondering around your workplace, armed with a clipboard and a sharp eye… a little like the guy in this post!

Having an health and safety inspection of any kind gets most people worked up into a bit of a panic. But if you’re about to get hit up with an inspection – it’s a lot less scary than you think!

Here’s a closer look at why you might be being inspected – and what to expect.

Why are they coming?

Health and safety visits are really dedicated to those areas deemed to be at greatest risk.

So you might want to ask yourself – is your business pretty hazardous anyway? For example, anyone working with chemicals and explosives, off-shore drilling or nuclear energy already knows that they’re dealing with a pretty challenging environment, at the best of times!

In this case, you probably need to have a safety case or licence. So it makes perfect sense that the Health and Safety guys are going to come around on a regular basis, and make sure everything is on target.

Has someone made a complaint?

Another common reason for an inspection?

Someone’s made a complaint – or there’s been an incident.

This is usually the case where there’s been a death or a major injury. Makes sense – they need to know what happened, right?

You can expect that the investigators will be asking lots of questions and looking around. This is all to help find out what the issue was – and see if other businesses can learn a lesson from it.

Is your performance not up to scratch?

Another common reason for an inspection?

Your health and safety track record has not exactly been, well, outstanding.

You might be working in a risky industry – or you might have had problems in the past. Either way, the inspectors will be concentrating on the most high priority risks identified – and see whether you’re meeting the standards, or whether more work needs to be done.

What happens if there’s been a breach?

Ok – calm down. Deep breath.

Finding a breach is not the end of the world. The most important thing for your inspectors is figuring out how to resolve it.

If it’s just a minor breach – you might get away with an informal explanation. Don’t trivialise this though! They’ll explain what the issue was, so use the opportunity to ask questions and find out what to do to improve.

If it’s more serious, then you might get an improvement notice. This is exactly what it says on the tin – a notice to tell you exactly what you need to do – and when by.

And if it’s a really major problem – then you could be facing a prohibition notice, or even prosecution. This is going to be likely when there’s been a major injury or fatality – or if you’ve been in serious breach of the law.

Your takeaway points

Why are they coming? A few main reasons:

–       You work in a pretty risky industry anyway

–       Someone’s made a complaint about you

–       You’ve got a bad track record

And if they find a breach:

–       You could just get an informal chat

–       Or an improvement notice – when you really need to fix things ASAP

–       Worst case scenario – prohibition notice – or prosecution

Have you ever had an inspection? How did it go?


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: CDM Services, Construction Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services

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